Whileopen source advocates are fond of pointing out the freedom of open source --that is, the freedom to share and modify it --it's only part of the equation for companies taking advantage of open source in their businesses.
The other part is open standards --and when the two come together as you could argue they have in OpenStack, then you have some powerful business magic.
Matt Mullenweg had a great post this week on his blog about the power of open source freedom to drive his business, building WordPress into a serious force. As Mullenweg pointed out, he built WordPress on top of an old open source project, an exercise that would not have been possible with a proprietary software package because the owners would have put an end to his project in a quick minute.
And that worked out great for Mullenweg and the WordPress community (of which I am a happy member), but not every business is looking to build their business specifically on an open source product. More often, an organization is using open source software to leverage the software and the community and that freedom to build on it and use the power of the community to keep it growing and developing.
But as one author argued recently, open standards can also open up an industry by giving everyone involved an even playing field on which to develop products. And everyone wins. Vendors win because they don't have to develop a proprietary set of rules that only works for their products and customers win because the standards allow for interoperability among different products in the product market. That makes it much simpler for IT to make different systems to work together.
And it's not that unusual forcompanies to have multiple products within a single product category. When you can make them work together via standards, it makes it infinitely easier to integrate the various products. When the products are open source and built on on open standards, it makes it far simpler to get the various open source pieces to work together.
When you put this powerful combination together in the cloud, and work to make various parts of the cloud stack interoperable, it's even more powerful, and that's precisely what the OpenStack community is trying to do. While there isn't a standards body per se, OpenStack.org is working actively to implement a standard set of procedures for communicating with the various levels of the cloud stack.
And in some ways because it isn't controlled by a standards body, you could argue that the process of implementing standardized procedures could be easier to implement without all of the friction you would very likely encounter in the typical standards approval process.
However you see that though, the combination of standards and open source can drive a project and help create open and interoperable systems, and for a business, you can't get much more flexible than that.
Photo Credit: opensourceway on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.